• October 20, 2020

Open Source Solutions for IBM i

As I covered in a previous post, IBM i DevOps systems typically “ship” with all the functionality required to power a modern DevOps-based developer team or IT organization. This is, in fact, a major benefit of the IBM i platform over distributed systems. 

But there are nevertheless good reasons why IBM i users—and even IBM i change management vendors—might want to adopt open source tools to one degree or another, and it has nothing to do with the capabilities of the built-in tools. 

Why Open Source?

IBM i users have the privilege of choosing between the platform’s built-in solutions, 100 percent open source, or third-party solutions. They can even select a mixture of both, depending on their needs. 

The most important motivation to add open-source tools to the DevOps environment is the
need for a common repository for code across all environments. As companies rapidly link applications together across operating systems, maintaining a common repository is necessary to ensure all related changes are managed together. Without that connection, changes across platforms will fall out of sync and applications will fail. 

Furthermore, many open-source tools have become standard on almost every computing platform other than IBM i (and IBM Z). Most developers are familiar with these tools and are most productive when using them. They’re a kind of lingua franca among developers from different platforms. Given the chronic talent gap in the IBM i space, businesses are excited to jump on anything that will make the transition to ‘i’ easier and in turn, make it easier to attract and retain talent.

A Full Suite of Tools

The current list of free, open source DevOps tools for IBM i includes Git, Jenkins, Eclipse, Visual Studio, Maven, Ant, Junit, Puppet, Chef, and Tomcat. These are some of the most popular DevOps tools among students, academics, and industry professionals alike.

Additionally, part of what makes open source so attractive is the robust support communities that develop around the tools. True to that spirit of open source, IBM maintains a free IBM i support community, where users can find answers to common questions, particularly those relating to key integration packages. Moreover, for those who need a higher level of support, IBM offers professional support options for organizations that don’t have the time or the knowledge-base to maintain the tools themselves.

Built-In or Open Source: It’s Your Choice

Thanks to IBM i’s robust support for popular open source tools, IBM i users have a real choice to make about their DevOps solution. For organizations whose employees are firmly grounded in the IBM i space or who rely solely or primarily on IBM i for mission-critical operations, IBM i’s built-in tools are probably the simplest way to start taking advantage of DevOps methodologies. For other organizations either working in heterogeneous environments or just interested in using the standards of a given DevOps function, open source tools are also available. Ultimately, the advantage of IBM i is that you have the choice. 

Andrew Finley

Andrew Finley 3 Posts

Andrew Finley has over 25 years IT experience, gained working within various areas of the IBMi, covering ALM & DevOps, Technical Support, Middleware, Operations and Deployment. Having spent the last fifteen years as a Solutions Engineer for Rocket Software, Andrew has worked with global customers across many industry sectors.

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